The Fundraising Regulator: a bitesize brief for smaller charities

NAVCA recently attended a roundtable event hosted by the Fundraising Regulator, to discuss its work with smaller charities. Below are the key ‘takeaways’ we recommend you pass on to colleagues and the charities you support.

Smaller charities: a definition

The Fundraising Regulator defines ‘smaller charities’ as those that spend less than £100k pa on fundraising, regardless of their overall income.

 Why is this relevant?

If you qualify as a ‘smaller charity’ you can register directly with the Fundraising Regulator for a fee of £50, rather than being subject to the levy applied to those who spend over £100k pa.

The main point to be aware of is that whilst registration with the Regulator is voluntary, compliance with the Code and the Regulations it embodies is not, no matter how small a charity’s annual spend on fundraising OR their annual income overall. Any charity that is carrying out fundraising activity, even on a small scale, is subject to a complaint and to the Regulator’s complaints process.

 Complaints against small charities

There is a widespread misconception that the Fundraising Regulator exists to tackle problems in the context of large charities only. The Regulator does receive complaints about very small charities. Issues include things like putting bags through doors, raffles, lotteries and continuing to take money for longer than it should do.

All charities – regardless of size – must have a viable complaints procedure in place. Not having one is in itself, a breach of the Code.

 Fundraising Preference Service

The Fundraising Preference Service (FPS) does not just apply to large fundraising charities, it is applicable to any registered charity. It means that a member of the public can make a request through the FPS to be removed from a charity’s database and excluded from all future communications, even if they have never been contacted, and even if they are not already on the charity’s database.

 Perhaps an individual has a reason to ensure a local charity doesn’t ever contact them, or they may have misidentified a local charity as a larger one with a similar name; it makes no difference, the charity receiving the request must act on it and never contact the individual.

 Be prepared

The advice on the FPS website currently says: smaller charities that spend less or no money on public fundraising will be set up on the FPS when/if they receive an FPS request from a member of the public. 

However, the Fundraising Regulator has said that over time they will be contacting all registered charities to ensure they are included in the system.

If a charity doesn’t respond to a request, this is a breach of the Code and will likely also breach the GDPR.

 A request may come from someone who is not currently on your database but who wishes to ensure that they are never contacted at any time in the future.  If such a request is received you must have a system in place to ensure that request is complied with.

The Regulator’s approach to smaller charities

The Fundraising Regulator exists to support charities, not to close them down and will take context and capacity into account when dealing with issues in smaller charities.

Be proactive

If unsure how to handle a complaint or an instance of whistleblowing, you can self-refer to the Regulator for advice and guidance. Failure to act or to co-operate with the Regulator may result in being reported to the Charity Commission, so a pro-active approach by the charity itself is recommended.

Continued engagement

NAVCA will continue to meet with the Fundraising Regulator to help it improve its messaging and processes for very small charities and organisations. If you would like to contribute to this process, please let us know.

We have provided the above information in digestible bitesize chunks for you to copy and paste into your own communications. However, if you would like more detail on any of the points, please do get in touch.